I love Washington beer. We have some truly incredible breweries here in Washington state; some of the best in the nation in my humble opinion and, while I try to drink local as much as I can, I don’t limit myself to drinking beers from Washington exclusively. Our neighbor to the South, Oregon, also has some of the nation’s best breweries and I enjoy beers from them regularly.
Some of my favorite Oregon breweries are from the Bend area, which is why I’m pleased to announced that dates have been set for the 2019 Bend Brewfest. This year’s festival will take place on August 15th thru the 17th in the Les Schwab Amphitheater.
A few weeks ago, before ‘snomageddon 2019’ crippled much of Seattle, Tin Dog Brewing Company down in South Park was all set to celebrate their 5th Anniversary. Unfortunately, when the storms moved in, Tin Dog had to cancel their original plans for their own and everyone else’s safety.
Now that we’re thawing out, Tin Dog Brewing has rescheduled. Their 5th Anniversary celebration will now take place on Saturday, March 2nd – which is the same day as Washington Beer Open House. I know there are some of you out there who have still never visited Tin Dog. Well, WA Beer Open House is your perfect excuse to come down for a visit.
They’ll have a new beer to release, Sour flights from their cellar and tasters of their Gold, Silver and Bronze Award-Winning Blended Sours, Melange Deux and Mandala.
I can remember when Urban Family Brewing Company wasn’t yet a brewing company. They were a craft beer bar on Ballard Ave NW, pretty much across the street from The Noble Fir. As a craft beer bar, I only visited them a couple of times before they closed and moved across Salmon Bay to their current location on 26th Avenue West in Magnolia.
I think Urban Family is a bit homesick for Ballard though. They’ve just announced that, later this year, they will be moving the brewery to a new location, back in Ballard. Sentiment isn’t the only reason for the move though. They’re starting to outgrow their current location, and their new spot in Ballard will give them more room to expand, including more space for barrel aging and additional outdoor seating.
There are lots of great breweries in Seattle and the surrounding area, and many of those breweries are definitely worth the short or even long trip required for a visit. Most of the time though, unless there’s an event or a gathering that might draw us farther away, or we’re out specifically to try a new place/new places, most of us tend to drink more often at the craft breweries that are closer to where we live. That’s a part of the reason I’m such an advocate for breweries that are more in Seattle’s South end (including West Seattle), but definitely not the only reason. Sure, their proximity to me and my commute route makes them convenient, but most of them also make some damn fine craft beers.
There aren’t that many craft breweries in West Seattle (although Future Primitive Brewing did recently open in White Center), but now we have another newcomer nearly set to go. Coming up on March 8th, Best Of Hands Barrelhosue will open their doors to the public. Founded by Gregory Marlor and Nicholas Marianetti (former servers at The Beer Junction – and level II Certified Cicerones), along with their partner Chris Richardson, Best Of Hands will specialize in mixed-fermentation barrel aged sours and European inspired farmhouse ales.
Seattle is known for many different things. Two of the most prominent are, of course, coffee and craft beer. What some of you might not know, however, is that Seattle has a huge video game and comic book community. The annual PAX (Penny Arcade Expo) started here (which I used to report on annually when I wrote about video games), and Emerald City Comic Con has been happening every year since 2003. Last year’s attendance was over 95 thousand comic fans.
A few years back, Fremont Brewing Company partnered with ReedPOP, producer Emerald City Comic Con (ECCC), to create an ECCC-themed beer. The result was Dark Heron IPA. Now returning for its fourth year, Dark Heron features artwork by local Seattle artist Julia Reck and will be available on tap throughout ECCC’s run, and in cans for the first time.
One of the South end breweries I’ve been telling you about since they first opened in 2014 is Tin Dog Brewing down in South Park. Proprietors Lisa and Eric Rough have been quietly cranking out primarily Belgian inspired wild and sour blended Ales from their spot on S. Cloverdale Street and have garnered a small but loyal following. Last year they won a Gold Medal for Best Sour Beer at the Brewer’s Choice Awards for their Melange Deux and have also won Silver and Bronze medals at last year’s Washington Beer Awards.
Tin Dog doesn’t usually host many big events, but they’ve got one coming up that might pique your interest. On Saturday, February 23rd, you can join Tin Dog for an amazing evening of flamenco, paella and craft beer.
How long can a duck stand on one leg? Well, the mascot for Counterbalance Brewing Company (CBM Sponsor) has been doing it for nearly 4 years now and he’s definitely ready to party. You may recall that Counterbalance’s Multipass IPA came in as one of the finalists during Novemberfest at Beveridge Place Pub late last year and now they have another Fifth Element inspired beer coming your way as they prepare to celebrate another trip around the sun.
Come join Counterbalance Brewing this Friday and Saturday, January 25th and 26th, as they celebrate their 4th Anniversary with some new and returning beer releases, including their 4th Anniversary Big Bada Boom Hazy Double Mango IPA and 2019 Bourbon Barrel Kushetka Imperial Stout aged in 2Bar Spirits Bourbon Barrels.
Craft beers come in a wide variety of styles, and each style has managed to find its audience. With so many different styles to chose from though, IPA still remains the most popular style of craft beer by far and the New England style juicy/hazy IPA has taken the spotlight over the past couple of years, outselling all other sub-styles of IPA by a wide margin.
Although the juicy/hazy sub-style of IPA was only officially recognized by the Brewer’s Association in March of 2018, by the time the Great American Beer Festival rolled around in September, the “Juicy or Hazy Pale Ale,” “Juicy or Hazy IPA” and “Juicy or Hazy Double IPA” dominated GABF entries. Juicy/Hazy Pale Ales and IPAs made up 706 entries (Juicy or Hazy Pale Ale: 131. Juicy or Hazy IPA: 414. Juicy or Hazy Double IPA: 161.) compared with 331 entries for the more traditional American-Style IPA.
Many breweries have resisted jumping into what’s come to be known as the haze craze and, in fact, many breweries out there still refuse to make a hazy IPA. Others, like Firestone Walker Brewing Company, have simply been busy with other projects (like their experimental Luponic Distorion series and their Leo v. Ursus series). However, now they’re ready and the time has come. After a year of experimentation and development, say hello to Firestone Walker’s Mind Haze hazy IPA.
Even though we have a large number of breweries right here in Seattle, many of us often take trips away from the city to explore breweries farther away or perhaps to visit some favorites we’ve found on previous craft beer excursions.
One popular destination for those leaving Seattle on one of these excursions is the city of Bellingham, WA. I myself am a big fan of many Bellingham breweries including: Wander, Kulshan, Chuckanut, Structures and, of course, Aslan. Well, if Aslan Brewing Company is on your list of favorite Bellingham breweries, then I’ve got some great news. This Summer, Aslan will open a location in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood.
As they were celebrating their 26th Anniversary back in 2015, Seattle’s iconic Pike Brewing Company also announced that they were expanding their ownership to include three longtime employees: Drew Gillespie, Vice President Operations; Patti Baker, Vice President Controller; and Gary Marx, Executive Chef. Pike founders Charles and Rose Ann Finkel called this ‘selling in‘ – a direct contrast to all the breweries out there who have been ‘selling out’ to beer giants like AB/InBev.
At the time, Drew Gillespie had been with Pike for over 17 years and, along with Patti & Gary, this was the Finkel’s way of showing how much they valued their loyal, long-time employees. It was an amazing gesture that further endeared the Finkels to those of us in the craft beer community who already love them.
Now in their 29th year, Pike is ready to make another big announcement. As of today, December 19th, 2018 (which also marks his 20th Anniversary with Pike), Co-Owner Drew Gillespie has been promoted to President of Pike Brewing Company. Congratulations, Drew!